Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass plans to fail again with Super Bowl guest policy

By Zac Bears

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Students at the March 2014 Blarney Blowout protest march to Whitmore Administration Building. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Students at the March 2014 Blarney Blowout protest march to Whitmore Administration Building. (Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Many University of Massachusetts students discovered this weekend that from next Sunday, Feb. 1 at noon, to Monday, Feb. 2 at noon, security will allow no guests into the 52 on-campus dormitories and apartments that house over 12,700 undergraduates. This coincides with the New England Patriots sixth Super Bowl appearance in the last 15 years. University administrators’ plan will fail to prevent post-game chaos in the Southwest Residential Area.

Twitter lit up with complaints before noon on Saturday, Jan. 24, with one account declaring “Welcome to UMass Alcatraz” and another quoting that tweet and adding “JUST LET US RIOT.”

Entering my eighth and final semester, I have experienced celebratory chaos in the wake of the Patriots’ 2012 Super Bowl loss to the New York Giants, the victory of the Red Sox in the 2013 World Series and of course several Blarney Blowouts, most notably in March 2014. Each time, the University failed to understand what prevents students from raucous, potentially dangerous celebration.

As students, media, residents and (one would hope) administrators are acutely aware, attempts at “riot” control by University administrators and town officials have failed spectacularly over the past ten years. Even after a relatively tame 2013 World Series celebration, at which students still trashed the Southwest Concourse, administrators did not attempt to create another “structured” celebration for the weekend of Blarney Blowout in Spring 2014. The result of this poor planning? Nearly 100 arrests, videos of police officers and students duking it out – students shirtless and cops in riot gear, strained Town-Gown relationships and worst of all, a national story.

Prohibition fails. The updated Super Bowl security procedure contains several flaws. Residence halls will close to guests about eight hours before the start of the game, and guests will be allowed into the building throughout the weekend, making it much harder to remove them if they get there before noon. Guests staying for the weekend will have ample time to plan around security restrictions. And the expected flood of raucous students into Southwest will not ebb because it excludes a couple thousand off-campus guests. When the Patriots lost in 2012, I lived in Van Meter at the peak of the Central Residential Area. Hundreds of residents, most of who I had never heard talk about football before, began bolting down the stairs after New England lost, ready to take advantage of the chaos to have a little fun.

Administrators have yet to announce alternative programming, perhaps several Super Bowl watch parties scattered around campus, which is not to say that they won’t. But the opening volley in managing student behavior on Super Bowl Sunday was not one of cooperation, but restriction. More draconian residence hall policy will only agitate students involved, now looking not only for a little fun but also to show displeasure at administrative decisions to limit students’ power and rights.

I wasn’t one of the kids running down Orchard Hill to join the chaos three years ago, and I won’t be next Sunday. But year after year, and bad decision after bad decision, I’m starting to understand those who join the crowd.

Zac Bears is the Opinion & Editorial Editor and can be reached at [email protected].

14 Comments

14 Responses to “UMass plans to fail again with Super Bowl guest policy”

  1. AlumniAchieved on January 24th, 2015 8:08 pm

    This is great, I am all for the administration ensuring that the current generation of students who is attempting to make UMass the “ZooMass” does not do so.

  2. Boofuckinghoo on January 24th, 2015 10:12 pm

    it’s not like the problem is how amazingly stupid everyone is encouraged to be about rowdy manthunk sportball. no, the problem is definitely any time someone limits a privilege that can be misunderstood as freedom.

  3. Zac Bears on January 25th, 2015 10:39 am

    My point wasn’t that those who would go out and be rowdy are right to do so, but that this plan will only make the situation worse. It will push students inside early, and keep students outside after the game. Also, a restriction on the ability to bring a reasonable number of guests into a room or apartment that one is spending between $2,500 and $5,000 per semester to live in is only acceptable if it falls on college kids? Maybe having guests in your home is a privilege (I’d call it a basic right), but if it’s a privilege, UMass students are certainly paying to have it.

  4. Kyle on January 25th, 2015 6:54 pm

    To be fair, during the last superbowl there was a watch party and during the world series the had a cook out in southwest. Both were attempts to provide a structured way for students to enjoy the games (and the aftermath of said games)and both failed miserably. I do agree with you that this isn’t the best way to handle it. Most people went into the dorms during the riot dispersal (many of whom were guests of residents) and now they’ll be stuck outside where they’re more likely to continue doing stupid things That being said, barring some Marshall law situation there will still be a riot southwest (win or lose), and at this point there just trying to minimize the size. Probably won’t work though. Kids will just sneak into the residence halls anyway.

  5. John on January 26th, 2015 4:47 am

    How many times has the umass administration done this sort of thing? How many times has it worked? Since I’ve been at Umass I have only seen this sort of preparation make things worse. Yes, in an ideal world there would not be any morons who feel like causing destruction, but it is a minority of students who are doing so, and not only is punishing all students for the behavior of a few unjust, it also makes that sort of destruction more likely to happen.

  6. 2014Alum on January 26th, 2015 10:54 am

    If anything, this restriction is going to anger students and make them want to riot more. It’s not only off campus guests that this regulation is imposed upon. If a student lives in one residence hall, then they cannot go to another hall (a friend’s dorm room) to watch the game. I can’t see this accomplishing anything other than pissing the students off more. This is interpreted as a punishment for actions that have yet to even occur. The no guest restriction equates to curfew and martial law in my mind; those things have have NEVER sparked anyone to riot before right?

  7. Crazy Censorship on January 26th, 2015 9:14 pm

    Take it from me as an warning to all other UMass students, that any UMass student that mentions the riot on social media will be immediately called up to a visit to the Dean’s office. Just crazy censorship there. Can’t even express an opinion anymore.

  8. Alum '06 on January 28th, 2015 11:37 pm

    Threatening to riot is not you “expressing your opinion.” You do understand what rioting is, don’t you? The word “violent” is in the definition. If you plan to become violent during the Super Bowl, then no, I don’t have any problem with administrators letting you know what the consequences are. And if you act upon those plans then I certainly hope they throw your entitled ass out.

  9. J Burbank on January 29th, 2015 2:57 pm

    2014 alum says: “If anything, this restriction is going to anger students and make them want to riot more.”

    Why is that? For the vast majority of students who cringe at the talk of destruction, how is it that we accept and defend the alcohol-soaked bullies who feel entitled to trash the campus and its reputation?

    Kudos to any and all who stand against the football culture and its celebrated antics.

  10. MG8185 on January 29th, 2015 7:43 pm

    As an alum and now a parent of a UMA freshman, I applaud the administration’s initiative. Cooperation is a two-way street, and at this point it’s up to students to decide whether to honor our great university or to behave like spoiled children and disrespect it. Have a little fun? Of course. Destroy public property and risk personal injury or worse? No.

  11. Kate on January 30th, 2015 6:34 am

    Agree with previous two posts. The nihilistic destruction of property is not endorsed by the majority of students. Social justice, not the Super Bowl juggernaut, should be our focus Sunday.

  12. Curt Schilling on January 30th, 2015 10:41 am

    I’m a student on campus. I’m an active student on campus. The campus administration, while they may say they have made a strong effort to reach out to student leaders, has not done so.

    The vast majority of the campus does not condone is rioting. Even at the past riots, most of the attendees have been bystanders who cooperate with police fully. They just want to celebrate peacefully with their campus body. And they should absolutely be allowed to do that with the amount of money they pour into the University each year. These sort of events have the potential to be so positive for the University, but they have done nothing to ensure that they turn out this way.

    My student organizations have made it very clear, do not attend any post-game gatherings on campus. However, the student leaders on campus need to be utilized by the administration. We have a voice that the administration doesn’t have. Subbaswamy is not the guy who’s out there with the students. The disconnect between administration is becoming larger and larger with these sort of procedures and “preventative measures.”

  13. Kun on January 30th, 2015 4:55 pm

    Never been to any riot at Umass. Won’t they go back to sleep when tired and leave maybe some litter? Why not just hire a few janitors to clean up next morning?

  14. Reality on February 1st, 2015 1:58 pm

    The solution is actually pretty simple, and is would not require the taxpayer to set up ‘alternate programming”. Expel students who abuse the taxpayer-funded educational opportunity afforded them. Perhaps they’ll learn an even more valuable lesson.

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